Charles and Gretchen Reed, both private pilots and lifetime Lake County, Ohio, residents, had searched casually in the county area for a home and piece of land on which they could develop their own airport. Both flew out of Casement Airport in Painesville from when they were married in 1966; in 1977 they found the home on Trask Road in Leroy Township, with enough adjacent acreage to clear trees and excavate two runways. Between 1977 and 2008, they built four hangars, which they filled with vintage airplanes and much aviation memorabilia. Numerous outbuildings, such as equipment storage areas and workshops, were also constructed.
During the first 11 years of their marriage, the Reeds had invested in rental real estate, which gave them extra income to develop the airport. Chuck was also involved in private government contract work of a highly classified nature; because it included hazardous duty pay (drug interdiction in third world countries), they were further able to invest in their goals.
They purchased the house and the 28 acres with it in 1977 from Christopher and Ruth Nau. They were also able to secure the 40 acres to the south from Helen Laird of Ashtabula. The Reeds used their bulldozer, road grader, brush hog and chain saws to clear the land for the E/W runway in 1978. Hangar #1, now the one on the right as seen from the road, was completed in 1978. Finished rooms and a deck were added to the north side by 1984.
Clearing for the N/S runway was done in 1985 and 1986, and Hangar #2 was built behind the pond.
A third hangar, on the south end of the property, was built in 1990. The “control tower” was added to Hangar #1 in 2000, and Hangar #4 was built attached to the tower in 2002.
After Chuck’s death on December 23, 2008, Gretchen continued the development of the airport/museum complex. In December, 2010, she established a life estate with Lake Erie College of the 68 acres that comprise the museum, along with all buildings, airplanes, and equipment. All will become the College’s property upon Gretchen’s death. She also donated 66 acres of vacant land on the other side of Trask Road. The College is incorporating the airport into its programs and student life and eventually plans to further develop the entire property so that many facets of aeronautics may be explored by students and the community, in general.